Twilight Is Tops at Borders
The success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books, movies and DVDs has carried over into licensed merchandise as well. A case in point: Borders, which has featured front-of-store displays of non-book merchandise, much of it exclusive, along with complementary books and media, since November. “It’s been a really terrific property for us all around,” says Kathryn Popoff, v-p trade books. “The non-book merchandise has been a large sales contributor for us. The fans are rabid for anything Twilight.”
Borders’ involvement with Twilight began about a year and a half ago, before the property started to take off in a big way, with a Borders Book Club sit-down with Meyer that is available for viewing at the [Borders Media Web site] www.bordersmedia.com/bookclub/meyer. One critical component throughout has been the involvement of fan Web sites including The Twilight Lexicon and Twilight Live. These sites get exclusive first looks at book and movie content, help lead in-store events, and receive early word about upcoming books, films and new products, all of which generates word of mouth and drives sales.
The bestselling non-book Twilight product at Borders has been an exclusive 18-month calendar featuring movie art; other Twilight items available range from keychains, posters and t-shirts to Edward action figures. “It’s about the whole culture of Twilight,” explains Popoff, noting that the products are refreshed often to keep fans coming back. Displays will continue into the foreseeable future as new films and DVDs are released and new audiences become fans.
“We’re using the property to keep the fans engaged in reading,” Popoff says. “Like Harry Potter, Twilight has brought kids back to reading, and that’s a great thing.”
Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends imprint is working on several book series tied to Breyer Animal Creations’ collectible horses, which take their place as the imprint’s first and only licensed brand. “This is a licensing arrangement, but it’s more than that,” stresses publisher Jean Feiwel. “We wanted to do classic horse stories like those of Walter Farley or Marguerite Henry, but in an updated fashion. What struck me about Breyer is that it’s a company with a focus and a mission. It’s not at all a toy company. They believe in the enduring power and beauty of horses and they’re dedicated to doing right by the Breyer brand.”
The first four books, based on Breyer’s Wind Dancers line of fantasy horses, were released last fall and are being followed this spring by the Breyer Horse Collection, a series of middle-grade readers Feiwel calls “the American Girl of horses.” Each title centers on a specific breed; the author is Annie Wedekind, who wrote A Horse of Her Own, released by F&F last spring. More Breyer book series will follow; the company offers over 300 horse models, each breed-specific, hand-crafted and 100% realistic.
The partnership will open up some additional distribution for F&F in areas where it doesn’t have a presence, such as saddle and tack stores, as well as in book-and-model packages in certain channels, including one offered recently on QVC.
Learning Horizons is introducing workbooks based on PLANETii’s Britannica Smartmath Web site, an adaptive math study and practice tool for K—8 students featuring 35,000 questions in 91 topics, among other content. Questions are customized based on the student’s previous responses, and the site has a game-like atmosphere to retain interest.
Smartmath was developed for the Asian market and is brand-new in the U.S. After Learning Horizons signed on as a launch partner, PLANETii allied with Encyclopaedia Britannica, which will market and distribute the product in schools and to consumers through its 20 million-strong database, as well as lending its name to the site. “We’re helping build the awareness and subscription base,” notes Theresa Gamble, Learning Horizons’ director of marketing. “But now there’s a powerhouse brand affiliated with Smartmath.” The online tutoring site Brainfuse is another partner.
Learning Horizons’ 160-page workbooks complement the web content, although they can’t reflect the site’s adaptive learning model. “That’s the trickier part,” Gamble says. “It’s static on paper.” As readers complete chapters—where they solve problems and equations rather than using the site’s multiple-choice format—they receive codes to get credit for the work online. The workbooks come with a free one-month subscription to the site and a free tutoring session with Brainfuse. Gamble reports strong interest from its 5,000 retail customers, especially from the office channel and warehouse clubs, for which Learning Horizons is creating 320-page versions.
Paintbox Press, a small publisher specializing in pop-ups and other books, is releasing Pop-Up Tour de France this summer, licensed by Amaury Sport Organization and its agent Moda International. The book, for ages 9—up, will launch at this year’s Tour and be available in French translation at stops along the way, as well as in mostly independent book, gift and museum stores in North America and Europe, and online.
This is Paintbox’s third licensed pop-up, following Macy’s on Parade: A Pop-Up Book for Children in 2002 and a Derby Day: A Pop-Up Celebration of the Kentucky Derby in 2005. “My M.O. is taking events I’m totally fascinated with and trying to find out what goes on behind the scenes,” explains founder Pam Pease, who was able to visit the towns on the Tour and be at the finish line of last year’s race to help her better incorporate the flavor of the event. The book includes photos as well as illustrations and text.
Little Star Twinkles
U.K.-based Holland Publishing is at this week’s London Book Fair launching its a new imprint, Little Star Creations, which focuses on licensed books and merchandise for ages 2—9. Its first two licenses for activity and gift books include Bang on the Door’s design-based Groovy Chick, for girls 2—8, and Lavish Productions’ multiplatform Pet Poets Club, for activity books for girls 3—6 and gift books for teens and up. The company also holds licenses for Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer and Mr. Men for volume-controlled children’s headphones.
Holland has recently become certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, and Little Star’s 100% FSC-certified books have been a big draw for both retailers and licensors, according to Jonathan Holland, founder and managing director. “We’re in negotiations to expand publishing licenses further, and have gotten a really good reaction to the FSC certification from retailers and especially licensors,” he says. “They really like the statement that makes.”
In response to Licensing International Expo’s move to Las Vegas this year (June 2—4 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center), a competing show is launching in New York. Called THE Licensing Show, it will be held April 20—22, 2010 at the Javits Center. Managed by Trade Show Events International, it is not tied to Licensing International in any way.... Super Duper Publications, a publisher of educational products such as flash cards and books for autistic and special-needs children, was ordered to pay Mattel $3.6 million ($1 million in damages and $2.6 million in attorneys’ fees) as a result of a lawsuit in which Mattel accused Super Duper of violating its See ‘N’ Say trademark.... Author/illustrator Marianne Richmond licensed her picture book Hooray for You! to iKids Play for its iPhone application, which allows kids to color, paint, and read along.... Act III Licensing has signed Prestige Toy to create plush toys, dolls, puppets, baby cuddlers and rattlers based on author/illustrator Karen Katz’s work.... Scholastic will publish a junior novelization and reader this fall tied to the Twentieth Century Fox film The Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.... Simon & Schuster is developing books tied to Nickelodeon’s brand extension of Dora the Explorer, Dora’s Explorer Girls, which targets girls age 5—up....Dr. Seuss Enterprises signed three new licensees, Junk Food Clothing, Baby Togs and BT Kids, for children’s and juniors’ apparel.... Classic Media signed Capcom Mobile for Where’s Waldo? games distributed over mobile devices.... Two fast-food promotions with publishing ties this spring: Maisy will appear in a Chick-fil-A kids meal promotion, brokered by agent RJM Licensing, and Scholastic’s WordGirl will be featured at Wendy’s, both in May.... Big Tent has signed several licensees for the TokyoPop manga brand, including Bell Sports (skateboard decks), Trinity Products (t-shirts, sweatshirts and fashion tops), and Jem Sportswear and Awake, Inc. (girls and juniors’ t-shirts).